The aim of this study is to undertake a systemic literature review (SLR) of horticultural therapy and to explore whether its inclusion in a healthcare programme can enhance hospitalised children's well-being.Design/methodology/approachAn empirical study was developed using a mixed methods approach to monitor stakeholders' perceptions of horticultural therapy. Specifically, hospitalised children (N = 31) and their families (N = 21), as well as medical and nursing staff (N = 3), were engaged in the empirical study. Qualitative and quantitative surveys were developed, involving two paediatric units in an Italian hospital.FindingsThe authors’ findings show a significant improvement of children's mood and psycho-physical well-being following horticultural therapy. The authors found positive effects of interactive horticultural therapy on hospitalised paediatric patients and their parents. Parents perceived a positive influence on their mood and found the therapy very beneficial for their children. Qualitative analyses of children's and parents' comments (and related rankings) revealed the helpful support role of horticultural therapy in dealing with the hospitalisation period. There is a very limited number of studies that have inspected co-therapy implementation in paediatric hospitals, and to the best of the authors' knowledge, no study has yet examined the effect of horticultural therapy in such a context. The practice of horticultural therapy with children in health settings has been documented in some Italian hospitals, but its effectiveness has not yet been well established in the literature.Originality/valueThe authors’ findings could provide useful insights to clinicians, health managers and directors in creating and sustaining a successful group co-therapy programme under the managed healthcare system.
The TQM Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 24, 2021
Keywords: Co-therapy; Horticultural therapy; Healing garden; Healthcare; Paediatric units; Children; Stakeholder satisfaction; Well-being